Water siphon from the Mississippi River – Twin Cities

In too sunny Southern California, residents of the popular Sonoran desert town known as Palm Springs are roasting in the heat and worried about their water. With an eye to future shortcomings, the desert dwellers have come up with what they see as a logical proposition, which they have repeatedly promoted through the letter pages of their local newspaper, the Desert Sun.

Their solution to a looming, albeit erratic, water crisis? Sending water from Minnesota and the Great Lakes or around.

“The West is arid. We haven’t planned well enough. We need Midwest water, “reads an online headline of the July 15 letters to the editor.

“When floods hit the Midwest, the West helps pay,” reads another July 17 headline letter. “So give us some water.”

“Snowbirds overwinter in the desert, but are they reluctant to share water? Hypocrisy! “Reads a headline dated July 19.

“The United States went to the moon. It can certainly move water from the Midwest to the West, “reads another letter dated July 12.


Julie Makinen, executive editor of Desert Sun, said she has never seen so much traffic for a single letter, such as the one that attracted nearly 75,000 page views on June 22, when a Las Vegas resident kicked off the game by writing that Mississippi River water could be diverted to the Colorado River.

The problem that suggests that alleged solution? A mega drought measured last year across western states like California and Nevada and extending to Montana and Texas is believed to be the worst of its kind in 1,200 years.

“(Environmental Reporter) Janet Wilson’s article about federal officials taking drastic measures to stop California’s water crisis was fantastic,” Bill Nichols wrote in a 99-word letter to the editor. “Instead of just conservation, how about a Tennessee Water Authority-like project to divert the Mississippi River and build a canal with reservoirs along the way, to channel it into the Colorado River? Kill two birds with two stones – not so far-fetched when you see the kind of projects being built in the Middle East and China! It is about will “.

“Talking about a great business project,” added Nichols, “and a fantastic way to usher in a new decade for the Southwest.”

Then, on June 30, a letter writer’s suggestion that “we could fill Lake Powell in less than a year with an aqueduct from (the) Mississippi River” was picked up by Google’s “Discover” feed, which automatically matches news to users based on their interests.

Suddenly, that single letter from Desert Sun got 465,000 page views online, a record for the newspaper, which has a paid daily circulation of 20,000 to 50,000 copies.


Homes with pools in Palm Springs, California.
Homes with Pools in Palm Springs, California, April 3, 2015. The state’s history as a frontier of prosperity and glamor faces an uncertain future due to severe water shortages. (Damon Winter / The New York Times)

“It just blew up,” Makinen said, noting that it usually takes a bit of effort to find a glittering rate for the letter pages. “It was just crazy. I’ve been here for four years and we’ve never had this level of involvement. ”

The latest controversy on the big letters page, he said, involved a proposal last year to install a giant statue of Marilyn Monroe, pale legs in a fluttering dress, in downtown Palm Springs.

The growing, some might say thirsty, demand for Mississippi River water has not been met while seated. Midwestern snowbirds familiar with the paper, among other readers, also wrote, horrified at the prospect of pumping or hauling river water roughly 1,900 miles across the country to some of the warmer, more expensive corners. and the nation’s most overpopulated.

Several writers have expressed concern about the predictable environmental effects of water diversion causing groundwater to fall, destroying wetlands, draining farms, and potentially changing the weather patterns needed to support the American barn.

“Midwest water could carry invasive species,” warns a letter writer, ready for the consequences of a hypothetical water corridor.

“I live in Red Wing, Minnesota,” begins a recent letter from reader Paul Cofell. “I recently noticed several letters to the editor in your publication promoting the withdrawal of water from the Mississippi River or the Great Lakes and the diversion to California via a pipeline or aqueduct. I’ll save you some time by informing you that it won’t happen because the local citizens here don’t want you to have that water ”.

Cofell added: “There are a lot of people living along the Mississippi River and around the Great Lakes who really, really, don’t like California or the Californians.” He also pointed to a time period in California history when farmers in the valley near Los Angeles blew up an aqueduct that was stealing their agua.

“We have a lot of dynamite in Minnesota,” Cofell wrote. “My advice to you is: Don’t California in the upper Midwest.”


This isn’t the first time the US water scarcity issue has inspired proposals to borrow H2O from the Mississippi River.

In 2019, a Lakeville railway company made plans to pump 500 million gallons of groundwater annually from a Southeast Minnesota aquifer for shipping to the arid Southwest. Elected officials in Dakota County have complained, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has acted swiftly to assure residents that the DNR sees “virtually no scenario” in which the agency would grant a water-appropriation permit for the project.

That proposal was born with Empire Building Investments, the real estate branch of Progressive Rail based in Lakeville.

Alarmed, the Dakota County Board of Commissioners voted to pass stricter water control regulations in May 2020 and April 2021 that prohibit new wells from using more than 50 million gallons of water annually to commercial or institutional water supplies. They exempted agricultural uses.

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